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 Knightstown's Kathleen Weiland Places Second in Entrepreneurship Competition

July 2, 2008 - Like most Knightstown High School freshmen, Kathleen Weiland didn’t know much about launching her own business. In fact, she doesn’t really want to have a business of her own, at least not any time soon.

But that didn’t stop the smiling, chatty 15-year-old from placing second in a regional entrepreneurship competition at Richmond recently.

Tall for her age, Weiland, daughter of Jeff and Ann Marie Weiland of Knightstown, spent over two months building a business plan for her proposed business, My Design Art Studio. The proposal was done for the BOSS (Business Opportunities for Self Starters) program, which is funded by a grant from Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The school-based program, aimed at high school students in Henry, Delaware, Blackford, Fayette, Randolph, Union and Wayne counties, is provided by the Eastern Indiana Regional Workforce Board.

Weiland learned about the competition in Ginny Lumpkin’s business class at KHS. She and several other students agreed to participate in the program, the curriculum and training for which was developed by IU East. Although over a dozen students began the competition initially, several dropped out, something Weiland attributes to the program’s rigorous nature.

“My business plan took two and a half months to finish,” she said. “That was a lot longer than I expected.”

However, the pay-off was worth the effort in a number of ways, she said. Her first place finish in the KHS contest brought a $1,000 prize. Other local students who participated included Zach Mullen, Cory Back, Jordan Mullen and Katey Bilsky. Back took second place locally, along with a $500 prize. He also advanced to regionals, but didn’t place.

Weiland’s winning business model involves pottery decorations by artistic consumers. “(The business) provides the customer with a pre-made piece of pottery that they can glaze and decorate,” her business plan said. “We also provide both ceramic and painting classes.”

While it may seem simple to some, designing a winning business model involves much more than merely conceiving an idea for a business. The BOSS program launched Weiland into a new realm of business understanding. “I learned a lot,” she said. “I learned how long it takes to plan a good business. We learned about the different types of businesses you can start and the different types of (business) ownership. I got a very diverse understanding of business, even the financial stuff. I hadn’t had any financial experience as a freshman in high school. But, I learned all about budgeting, profit and loss statements, resumes, etc. It was really a neat program. I’m glad I did it.”

The business plan wasn’t all paper and ink, though. Regional competitors had to give 10-minute business plan presentations before a panel of judges. Weiland spent hours preparing for the regional contest, rehearsing the presentations in her bedroom and timing herself with a cell phone. “I even practiced my presentation wearing high-heeled shoes so I could be a little more stable,” she said with a smile and a giggle. “I don’t’ wear high heels very much.” A multi-media “Power Point presentation” was also required, but she didn’t get to rehearse that.

“It was a great experience being up in front of a panel of judges,” said Weiland. “I had to come up with answer off the top of my head – it was like a job interview.”

Although Weiland won locally, place second regionally and developed more than a rookie’s understanding of business management, it still wasn’t enough to convince her to launch her own business. “This really opened my eyes to the risks involved (in business ownership),” she said. “I want to go to college and work for someone else. I like to play it safe.”

Given the amount of work involved, BOSS program officials made sure that even those who merely completed a business plan were rewarded. Each completed plan earned students $350. Weiland made out particularly well, winning over $1,800 total for her efforts. In regional competition, first place went to Brandon Brookbank and Christopher Kolger of Wayne County. The business was for KV International Investments Inc.


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